Copper Ale

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It looks like this, although this isn’t it.

This is the recipe for my copper ale. The name is simply a reference to the the color of the beer. I designed this beer to be an “everyday” beer that I would enjoy, and other people who have tried it have really liked it. I’ve brewed it eight or nine times now, and everytime I’ve mucked with the recipe a little bit. But, it’s always hovered around the same basic idea.

I started with a blank canvas, so to speak. I didn’t start with an existing beer style and tweak the beer from there. Instead, I just thought of one combination of ingredients that I believed would go well together and started brewing. The grain bill started with pale malt blended with Munich malt, for a solid, malty base. A little bit of aromatic malt and Victory malt round out the malt character. (In previous versions of this recipe, Victory malt was the only (non-color) specialty malt, but I like the addition of aromatic malt.) I didn’t add any crystal malt — mostly because I wanted the beer to finish fairly dry, but secondarily because so many homebrew recipes contain crystal malt that I wanted to try something different. The color is tweaked by adding a small amount of roasted malts, chocolate and black malt. These add color, but there isn’t any roast flavor in the beer to speak of.

The beer’s malt character is offset by bitterness from Northern Brewer hops. These hops lend a faint mint-like character to the beer. In my most recent versions of this recipe, I added some Fuggles finishing hops, for that nice, “earthy” Fuggles character. The American ale yeast strain ferments cleanly and really lets the malt and hop character take center stage. The beer finishes around FG 1.010, so it’s relatively dry, which I think highlights the malty/biscuit-like/”husk-y grain-y” malt character of the beer. (In my next version of this, I might try adding some wheat malt, for some bread-like notes. This is my only recipe that has gotten more complex over time. I may also split batch it and try some English or Belgian yeast strain.)

I started thinking about the beer without any reference to existing beer styles, so it’s not surprising that it doesn’t really mimic any classic beer style. It fits the numbers of an altbier (BJCP category 7A) fairly well, but doesn’t really taste like an alt. Overall, it’s just a great “everyday” beer — balanced and drinkable, but with enough flavor to be still be interesting.

Copper Ale 

by Chris Colby

All-grain: English units

 

INGREDIENTS

 

Water

use water with carbonates near 100 ppm and calcium near 75 ppm

Malts (for an OG of 1.051 at 70% extract efficiency and 15 SRM)

7.5 lb. US 2-row pale malt

2.0 lbs. Munich malt

4.0 oz. aromatic malt

3.0 oz. Victory malt

2.0 oz. chocolate malt

1.0 oz. black malt

Hops (for 33 IBUs total)

Northern Brewer hops (30 IBUs)

0.89 oz. (at 9% alpha acids), boiled for 60 minutes

Fuggles hops (3 IBUs)

0.33 oz. (at 9% alpha acids), boiled for 15 minutes

Fuggles hops (0 IBU)

0.33 oz., added at knockout

Yeast (for an FG of 1.010 at 80% attenuation and 5.3% ABV)

Wyeast 1056 (American Ale), White Labs WLP001 (California Ale) or Fermentis US-05 yeast

(2-qt. yeast starter)

Other

0.50 tsp. Irish moss

1 cup corn sugar (for priming)

 

PROCEDURES

Heat 13 quarts of strike water to 163 °F. Mash grains at 152 °F for 1 hour. Mash out, recirculate and collect the wort. Keep your sparge water hot enough to maintain a grain bed temperature of 168 °F. Collect 6–6.5 gallons of wort and bring it to a boil. Once hot break forms, add hops and boil wort for 60–90 minutes, to reduce volume to 5 gallons (19 L). If hot break is not big and fluffy, add 0.5 tsp calcium chloride. Add Irish moss with 15 minutes left in boil. Add Fuggles hops at times indicated in the ingredient list. Cool wort to 68 °F and transfer to your fermenter. Aerate the wort thoroughly and pitch your yeast. Ferment at 68 °F. Carbonate to 2.5 volumes of CO2.

 

Extract Option

Reduce the amount of 2-row pale malt to 6.0 oz. (170 g), leaving you with 3.0 lbs. (1.4 kg) of grain total. Add 4.0 lbs. (1.8 kg) of light dried malt extract to the ingredient list. In your brewpot, heat 2.0 gallons (7.6 L) of water. Aim to reach boiling when the partial mash is done. In a separate, large (8 qts./8L or larger) pot, heat 1.0 gallon (3.8 L) of water to 163 °F (73 °C). Place crushed grains in a steeping bag and submerge in second pot. Hold temperature around 152 °F (67 °C) or 60 minutes. This is a small mash. In a third pot, heat 0.50 gallon (1.9 L) of water to 170 °F (77 °C) to use as sparge water. After the grains have mashed, place a colander over your brewpot, set the grain bag in it and pour the wort through it (to filter out solid pieces of grain); then, rinse it with the sparge water. Stir in roughly half of the malt extract and bring wort to a boil. You should have about 3.0 gallons (11 L) of wort. Do not let the wort volume drop below 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) during the boil. (Top up with boiling water, if needed.) Once boil starts and the first bits of hot break show, add your hops and boil for 60 minutes. Add other hop additions at times indicated. Add Irish moss with 15 minutes left in boil. Stir in remaining malt extract in the last 10 minutes. (Dissolve sugars in a small amount of wort first to make it easier to stir in.) Chill wort to 68 °F (20 °C) and transfer to fermenter. Add water to make 5.0 gallons (19 L) and aerate thoroughly. Pitch yeast and let ferment at 68 °F (20 °C). Keg or bottle and carbonate to 2.5 volumes of CO2.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 5.44.07 PM

 

Copper Ale

by Chris Colby

All-grain: metric units

 

INGREDIENTS

 

Water

use water with carbonates near 100 ppm and calcium near 75 ppm

Malts (for an OG of 1.051 at 70% extract efficiency and 15 SRM)

3.4 kg domestic 2-row pale malt

910 g Munich malt

110 g aromatic malt

85 g Victory malt

57 g chocolate malt

28 g black malt

Hops (for 33 IBUs total)

Northern Brewer hops (30 IBUs)

25 g (at 9% alpha acids), boiled for 60 minutes

Fuggles hops (3 IBUs)

9.4 g (at 9% alpha acids), boiled for 15 minutes

Fuggles hops (0 IBU)

9.4 g, added at knockout

Yeast (for an FG of 1.010 at 80% attenuation and 5.3% ABV)

Wyeast 1056 (American Ale), White Labs WLP001 (California Ale) or Fermentis US-05 yeast

(2-L yeast starter)

Other

0.50 tsp. Irish moss

1 cup corn sugar (for priming)

 

PROCEDURES

Heat 12 L of strike water to 73 °C. Mash grains at 67 °C for 1 hour. Mash out, recirculate and collect the wort. Keep your sparge water hot enough to maintain a grain bed temperature of 76 °C. Collect 23–25 L of wort and bring it to a boil. Once hot break forms, add hops and boil wort for 60–90 minutes, to reduce volume to 19 L. If hot break is not big and fluffy, add 0.5 tsp calcium chloride. Add Irish moss with 15 minutes left in boil. Add Fuggles hops at times indicated in the ingredient list. Cool wort to 20 °C and transfer to your fermenter. Aerate the wort thoroughly and pitch your yeast. Ferment at 20 °C. Carbonate to 2.5 volumes of CO2.

Comments

  1. For the wheat addition, try a little red wheat. I use between 0.5 and 3 lbs in every recipe. Adds a slight bread note and tons of head production/retention, but without affecting color much.

  2. Nice looking recipe, thanks for Sharing it I’ll have to give it a go too.

  3. Are you familiar with Otter Creek’s Copper Ale? I’m a huge fan of that beer, and I’ve tried a couple of clone recipes but they all missed the mark by a wide margin. Your recipe sounds closer than the other ones I’ve tried. I think I might have to try something in this vein myself.

    • Chris Colby says:

      I lived in Boston in the 1990s and remember Otter Creek Copper Ale. This isn’t a clone of that beer, though. And, it’s been so long since I’ve had an Otter Creek, I couldn’t tell you if this beer is close or not. My copper ale is malty (Munich plus aromatic malt), but with enough hops to make the balance 50:50 with the malt (if that makes any sense).

  4. this sounds great. I think I’ll try a split batch with a german or belgian yeast maybe a saison

    • Chris Colby says:

      A Belgian version of this could be interesting. I’d be curious to hear how it turns out, if you brew it.

  5. Just bottled a batch of this. Turrned out very nice (thanks Chris). I have always been partial to NB in my “session” beers and tended to brew steam/Cal. common often. I think I may like this better. I also like the variants of wheat/saison. I was wonderng when bottling how the Northern Brewer would be w/ saison yeast.

    • Chris Colby says:

      I’ve never used Northern Brewer hops in a saison, so I can’t comment from experience. However, it seems to me the “minty” character of Northern Brewer would do well with the “spices” from the saison yeast.

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